It ended up in some awkward same roomsex.
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Sometimes, I regret not having made more ?acts of rebellion? in my life. I was raised by an incredibly strict evangelical Christian mother who was fearful of any influence from the outside world. Dating was prohibited when I was in school, and she routinely rifled through my backpack, diaries, and notebooks to try to catch me in a lie. As if I was somehow having sex during school hours.
Growing up, I was one of those tweens and teens who lived on the fringe. I had school friends, but very few real friends because I rarely had the opportunity to spend time with other kids outside of school, unless the plans were somehow related to Jesusandchurch.
It was a very sheltered, and very lonely way to live. I?ve always been introverted, but in those days, I was something of a social butterflyin school. So, I longed to experience the fun and activities my classmates talked about whenever Monday rolled around, but the bulk of my weekends were spent reading at home alone in my room.
My life changed a bit,obviously, when I started college. Since I went to school in Southern Illinois and my mom was still in Minnesota, I finally had some physical distance between uswhichhelped.
But it was a complicateddistance. My upbringing left me with a lot of hangups and fears about whatwas and wasn?tappropriate. Sex and love had been off-limits my whole life, and even masturbation meant an eternity in hell.
Despite my hangups, I was determined to enjoy my (misguided) idea of a normal life. To that end, I married my college sweetheart after a year of dating when I was nearly 21. Surprise, surprise???that did not work out. He and I were both terribly naive about relationships, and we never actually consummated our marriage. We divorced after two and a half yearsof oneveryoddunion.
After the divorce, I moved back to Minnesota and slept on my mom?s couch for a few months. During my marriage, my self-esteem took a significant hit. I gained more than 100 pounds and I felt like a shell of the person I once was. College friends called, and I didn?t call them back. Friends got married and I was too ashamed to attend the weddings.
After a few weeks of being a lonely divorcee, I decided to do the whole transformation thing. Started working out, went on a very low calorie diet, and got a job.Within eightmonths, I?d lost over 100 pounds and moved into my first ?own? apartment. I felt hopeful again.
Eventually, I left retail and began temping in a bank vault, mostly filing vehicle titles. One of the security guardsthere, an army veteran, asked me out.
I said sure.
Our resulting relationship was? complicated. I felt violated on our first date because he was so persistent when I told him I?d never actually had intercourseandthatIwantedtotakethingsslow.
This was sometime around 2005, maybe 2006. It seems ridiculous now, but I didn?t know what consent was back then. I was coming out of the evangelical purity culture where it had long been ingrained into my head that if a man wanted to go further than I did, I must have led him on.
The security guard, however, was an atheist, and he confirmed those bad dating rules. The secular world was still daunting and new to me, so I felt this weird pressure to somehow prove I could be an adult. I think that?s a big reason why I kept dating him despite the fact that he consistently pushed past my boundaries.
Everything was on his terms, but again, that?stheworldIwasraisedin. Men were the deciders, women were the pleasers.Almost instantly, I resigned myself to suchadynamic.
A few weeks into our relationship, he wanted to drive me up to visit a friend of his for an overnight. I?d never done anything like that before with a man???I was still so new to living on my own without my mom watching my every move.
He drove us a couple of hours outside of the Twin Cities to meet a female friend of his who lived with her boyfriend. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Her boyfriend seemed especially interested in the fact that I was (at that point) a Christian. Within minutes of sitting down, he started peppering me with questions about things I would or would not do due to my faith. He was focused on my sex life, in particular, and I was too timid back then to do much more than stammer and blush.
The friend served us spaghetti for dinner with toasted English muffins and American cheese. Aside from her creepy boyfriend, the night seemed super tame.
Then the vodka and pot came out.
In a lot of ways, my upbringing stunted me mentally and emotionally. Being on the spectrum of autism (but not knowing it) didn?t help. I?d never been drunk, never even went to parties with alcohol. And while I had plenty of pothead friendsinschool, I never touched pot myself.
I still haven?t.
The friend?s boyfriend made a big deal about me trying the pot. They passed around a pipe but I couldn?t bring myself to try it. Again, as a child of the 80s who grew up evangelical???I was weirdly worried that my mom might be right that pot was this ?gateway? drug and it would lead me to become demon possessed.
So, I declined on the marijuana, but then somebody said they wanted to take shots and play strip poker. I don?t even know how it happened. Suddenly, three pairs of eyes were expectedly looking at me.
This one night was like a crash course in rebellion for me, though I still held myself backplenty. I never really dealt with ?peer pressure? as a kid or teen. That sort of thing didn?t truly happen until I hit my twenties and was trying to figure out all this shit.
Sitting out on smoking weed had been easy enough. But strip poker seemed more unavoidable. I didn?t drive and didn?t know how to get home???thesewerepre-Uberdays. I wasn?t keyed up about the idea of potentially getting naked in front of strangers, but I also wasn?t crazy about being seen as their bigbuzz kill.
So, I agreed.
Of course, I also knew next to nothing about playing poker.
On the brightside, it was summer but I was dressed for the air conditioning. With my jeans, panties, bra, tank top, and zip up jacket, I had more clothes on than everyone else; they were mostly in shorts and a tee-shirt.
There are a lot of guides online about what makes a poor poker player, but far too many of them miss the obvious. There?s a real learning curve. Newbies suck for a reason when we don?t know the rules or the terminology. Maybe we don?t think quick or confidently on our feet.
As might be expected, the entire game was? rough. Lost my jacket, lost my socks. As the game progressed, each round brought this terrible sense of foreboding. I was going to be naked.
Back then, I wasn?t really what anyone would call fat???at least not with my clothes on. I weighed about 180 pounds, but much of my weight was hidden beneath wide leg jeans. And I was very insecure about that.
I always knew my naked body would be surprising to strangers. I have a disfiguring disease called lipedema which means I have excess and abnormal fat cells in certain parts of my body like my calves and thighs. The idea of showing off my legs, which even then could be likened to tree trunks was humiliating. So, thank God for the vodka.
Did the other three people lose clothing? Sure. Some. But I was apparently the sole non-player among us and that put me on a fast course to baring it all.
With each lost round and another piece of clothing to be stripped, I cringedandlookedaroundtheroomwithpleading,thoughincreasingly inebriated eyes. No dice. The guys laughed, and the security guard?s friend kept telling me, ?I?m sorry???I feel so bad for you!?
Quite frankly, I felt bad for me too. Her boyfriend still skeeved me out and my security guard date didn?t really help matters every time he laughed along with the boyfriend like my discomfort was the funniest thing ever.
When it finally came time to take off the last piece of clothing, most of what happened was a blur. I couldn?t keep track of whatever order made the most sense???so, it was either my panties or my bra. The absolute worst part of the whole thing was that once you had to take off all of your clothes, you also had to stand up and give a little twirl around the room.
Clearly, I did not make these rules.
I took off the last of my clothes, burned beet red(again), did my stupid little spin, and then exhaled with relief when they all said I could put my clothes back on.
At the end of the night, I wasn?t the onlyonetotakeitalloff. The security guard also had to take a spin. I drank so much to try to forget what had happened, but later I found myself extremely uncomfortable in that living room as the friend and her boyfriend started having sex on their couch.
After enough vodka to fill a boat, I suppose anything seemed like a helpful distraction from the other couple?s squeaks and moans. The security guard initiated our own make out session which he quickly escalated into awkward sex.
I still suffered from vaginismus back then, and this was my first partner after my failed marriage. This guy never really listened to me when I tried to explain my painand discomfort, but the sex ?worked? because he had an especially small penis. Between that and my tendency to guard the depth of entry with my hand, it could still feel good. Much like using the Ohnut.
I can?t say that I even remember the events of that next morning, though I was incredibly grateful once we finally hit the road for Saint Paul.
It was one of those mixed experiences???I was halfway glad it happened because interesting things never seemed to happen to me back then. And I was too scared to take many risks on my own. But it was also tinged with regret since it wasn?t actually on my own terms.
Honestly, it took years for me to take risks on my own terms without feeling pressured into pleasing partners.
That security guard and I only dated a few months because he eventually moved out of state. But it was one of those imbalanced relationships that I?d later learn to associate with my misguided ideas about looking for loveand understanding myown sexuality.
Like so many things in life, it wasn?t all great or all bad. It was definitely a learning experience.
Do I wish I?d been a bit more wild in my younger years? A little more rebellious? Sometimes, yeah. Especially if it could have made me a bit more brave. And yet, I think there?s something said for making some of those rebellious acts when you?re older, wiser, and you actually know more about what you want.
Of course, I also know better than to agree to certain high stakes games when I don?t even know the rules.